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Local volunteers aiding California through Red Cross

The Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross continues to be tapped for national disaster relief operations because of their strong skill set and excellent training.

The American Red Cross is responding to the wildfires that continue to threaten residential areas across Southern California. Current focus is on providing shelter, food and emotional support to the thousands who are being forced from their homes.

Two local volunteers have been tapped for deployment to the San Diego region. Bobi Steingart of Longmeadow was deployed on Oct. 24 her role will to be assist with mass care operations (the activities and services provided on congregate basis to the community). She will like focus on feeding operations to assist victims and emergency personnel.

Charlene Cutler, also of Longmeadow, flew to California Oct. 25. Cutler is a registered nurse and will in health services to meet the health needs of the people affected by the disaster.

Shelters and feeding operations throughout all of the affected regions have been set-up to assist the individuals who suffered the loss of their homes or were forced to evacuate.

Evacuees or those who expect to evacuate are encouraged to register their well being on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site, available at This tool allows people in disaster affected areas to register their well-being using several pre-scripted messages. Family and friends can then log on and search for registered individuals to learn of their whereabouts and safety. People without access to a computer or without electricity can call the Red Cross at 1-899-REDCROSS for help in registering, or may contact a loved one to register on their behalf. If anyone in our local communities is in contact with loved ones in the affected region, they are encouraged to ask those affected to register on Red Cross Safe and Well.

Disaster volunteers from our region are called upon frequently to assist throughout the country because of their strong interest in responding and the expertise they've developed through working with the Pioneer Valley Chapter.

Both Steingart and Cutler were Red Cross volunteers during the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

New volunteers are welcome, and training opportunities are ongoing. Interested volunteers are encouraged to pursue disaster training as soon as possible because deployment to major national or regional disasters requires important advanced training. For more information on how you can begin the training process, please contact Brenda Brouillette, Director of Disaster Services, at 737-4306, ext. 911 or via email at

All American Red Cross disaster relief assistance is free, made possible by the voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross Chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting